September 09, 2011

Then the whale said: "time to die!"

Chase was repairing the damaged boat on board when the crew observed a whale, that was much larger than normal (alleged to be around 85 feet (26 m)), acting strangely. It lay motionless on the surface with its head facing the ship, then began to move towards the vessel, picking up speed by shallow diving. The whale rammed the ship and then went under, battering it and causing it to tip from side to side. Finally surfacing close on the starboard side of the Essex with its head by the bow and tail by the stern, the whale appeared to be stunned and motionless. Chase prepared to harpoon it from the deck when he realized that its tail was only inches from the rudder, which the whale could easily destroy if provoked by an attempt to kill it. Fearing to leave the ship stranded thousands of miles from land with no way to steer it, he relented. The whale recovered and swam several hundred yards ahead of the ship and turned to face the bow.
I turned around and saw him about one hundred rods (550 yards) directly ahead of us, coming down with twice his ordinary speed (around 24 knots or 44kph), and it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect. The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail. His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship. —Owen Chase
The whale crushed the bow like an eggshell, driving the 283-ton vessel backwards. The whale finally disengaged its head from the shattered timbers and swam off, never to be seen again, leaving the Essex quickly going down by the bow. Chase and the remaining sailors frantically tried to add rigging to the only remaining whaleboat, while the steward ran below to gather up whatever navigational aids he could find.
The captain's boat was the first that reached us. He stopped about a boat's length off, but had no power to utter a single syllable; he was so completely overpowered with the spectacle before him. He was in a short time, however, enabled to address the inquiry to me, "My God, Mr. Chase, what is the matter?" I answered, "We have been stove by a whale."

3 Comments:

Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

Kinda reminds me of a book I'm reading.

September 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

I had not realized that holy fuck you are reading the prequel. In our next episode they realize they are 3,000 from anywhere with no food, and spend 90 days drawing lots to see who they will kill and eat next, the victims including a Nantucket teenager the captain (name of Pollard) had sworn to protect.

Pollard got command of another ship immediately, but it hit rocks and sank. After a time he returned to Nantucket, where he worked as a night watchman. People said he brooded a lot for some reason.

September 10, 2011 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

Oh yeah, the teenager was his cousin...

September 10, 2011 at 10:04 PM  

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